Bring a friend

Every year, Hollywood churns out formulaic “date movies.” Maybe it doubles their earnings per title. Maybe it’s the consistent viewer turnout. Either way, making an interactive counterpart to the idea of the date movie is rarely attempted, and even more seldom achieved. However, in a change of face, From Software – the makers of otherwise RPG or sci-fi themed games like King’s Field and Armored Core – have put together what could be the ultimate date game. Offering vibrant environments, adorable characters, and genuinely clever puzzles governing every facet of level design, there’s not much to dislike about The Adventures of Cookie & Cream.

Don’t mistake this for a kiddie game. Be it the way the levels force players to cooperate to succeed, or the simple yet tricky controls, it’s a demanding game, but it’s not without rewards. Sure, our heroes are cuddly looking rabbits and the story is pure fairy tale. It’s deceiving in its simplicity. The task put before the player is to navigate the two rabbits through vertically scrolling levels, helping each other through different parts along the way. Again, it sounds simple enough, but there’s far more than meets the eye.

Many games claim to rely on cooperative play to be beaten. Never have I seen it such a requirement as here. For instance, say there’s a big chasm in the middle of a level with a cannon pointing diagonally across the screen. The player on one side can get in the cannon, but the other only has access to the fuse. One plays rabbit cannonball while the other lights the fuse, sending an aerial bunny across the chasm where there are bridge controls to help the other player cross on his/her side of the screen. See, despite sharing the levels, there’s a barrier between the two, meaning they can move parallel to one another, but seldom cross that center line. It’s also not wise to get too far ahead of the other player. Pitfalls may fall out of sight for one player or another if you get too far apart. Getting injured takes time off the clock, perhaps your biggest enemy in the game. There are time bonuses to be found, but it was all designed very deliberately. Oh, and that cannon/bridge puzzle above? That was one of the simpler ones.

Boss fights can get very tough, especially if it’s not clear right off the bat what to do to engender success. Other times, it requires one rabbit to get the boss to chase them into some waiting trap to be triggered by the other player. Teamwork is absolutely essential to get Cookie and Cream to their destinations successfully, and I recommend bringing a friend (boy or girl, your choice).

It is entirely possible to play this game solo, but I don’t recommend it unless you really want a challenge. See, the default controls set a rabbit to each analog stick, using the associated top trigger buttons for jumping and context-sensitive action functions. The two player setup allows players to share one controller (if you wanna get close with that special someone) or split the setup among two controllers. There’s enough to think about controlling one rabbit, so controlling two requires that you not only figure out twice as many puzzles in the same amount of time, but also keep them from being attacked by angry predators or being time-drained by a bird that flies in if a character stands idle for too long. It’s relentless and utterly challenging. The real fun lies in the two-player adventure mode.

A four-player versus mode exists, where various characters from the game battle to collect items while thwarting their adversary team, but it’s clear that most of the effort went into the adventure portion of the game. The level designs are top notch, some of the best I’ve seen in a while for this type of game (action-puzzle?), and the graphics and sound effects are adorable and caricaturize everything with big heads, big jaws, and a healthy dose of fun. Nearly everything in the game makes noise, and each world – made of sub-levels – has its own unique theme, whether it’s climate-, geography-, or theme-based. The music levels are a blast and reminded me of a similar theme in the original Rayman.

The difficulty curve is just about perfect, too. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned gamer, everything you need to know can be picked up as you go. By the end, though, it gets so hard you may consider throwing in the towel. But those bunnies are relying on you to guide them to safety! It’s funny how one starts to feel a connection with characters who rarely say a word. No matter how frustrating or hopeless it seemed for me or my compatriot, we kept at it, determined that if we just do a few things better, we’ll make it to the finish line in under the required time allotted.

Guys, if you can swallow the sugary sweet visuals and silly story of The Adventures of Cookie & Cream, it’s a pretty sure bet that your girl will get into it, if not for the visuals, then for the puzzle elements and clever level designs. Grab a couple controllers, cuddle up on the couch, and get your date on, courtesy of The Adventures of Cookie & Cream.

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